Dedication of the West Virginia Turnpike

Charleston Gazette
November 9, 1954


State Road Program Must Be Built Upon New System To Achieve Aims

The high cost of adequate road construction in West Virginia, brought emphatically to mind by the 88-mile section of turnpike just opened, points up a big problem which must be faced by the State Legislature meeting in January.

The problem is this: If it costs $1,500,000 a mile to build good roads, as indicated by the $133,000,000 cost on the Charleston-Princeton toll road, how can West Virginia ever expect to build any free roads?

Certainly, this is not a bright picture, but neither is it as black as it looks.

For one thing, this initial section of the turnpike goes through a mountainous section that presents West Virginia's most difficult road building obstacles. While the state has no sections where road building can be called easy, neither does it have any others where the mountainous terrain is so determinedly difficult.

Also, this is a toll road which is expected to offer something extra for the price of admission and which has a good many expenses not encountered in Freeway construction.

But there is no minimizing the tremendous problem this state faces in bringing its highways up to 1955 standards, not to mention the growing problem with ever-increasing traffic.

As we have observed before the first thing the Legislature must do, in our opinion, is undertake a reorganization that will restore confidence in the Road Commission.

In this connection, we think the Legislature would be on solid ground if it accepted the recommendation of the Highway Research Committee and Automotive Safety Foundation, and created a bi-partisan commission that could not be controlled by any one Govern.

If the Legislature did this, or something else that would place highway personnel beyond the reach of people with political whims or craving for power, then we think the people would be willing to accept the increased highway taxes needed to finance adequate roads.

The long-range program which the experts say west Virginia needs could be financed by doubling the present highway taxes (gasoline, license, privileges, etc.) - and everyone would benefit from the economic gains enticed by better roads.

But no one is going to accept higher taxes if they think the money is going to be used to pay incompetents placed on the highway payroll by some inept politician.

Our road program must be built upon a sound base, which means a new highway system. That's where the start must be made ... without it, no amount of fancy surfacing will hold up.